- My Story -
The Death of an Impossible Dream
From the tender age of eight, melancholy wove its stars into the fabric of my life. Deep, existential contemplations about life's transient nature became my constant companions. My young mind, captivated by these musings, delved into the profound mysteries of existence. In these depths of reflection, I discovered music’s magnetic effects, a revelation that ignited a spark in my soul.
Around the age of ten, I discovered my natural singing ability, dreaming of a life as a music artist. However, this dream faced immense resistance. I grappled with a soul-tormenting dilemma: a burning desire to devote my life to music, contrasted by a deep-seated belief, instilled by those closest to me, that I lacked the talent. Their laughter and doubts, and concerns that I was chasing a delusion, cast long shadows over my aspirations. The belief that “I wasn’t a good enough singer, nor did I look the part,” became an unchallenged conviction for the next decade.
At sixteen, my parents sent me to a boarding school in the UK, recognising the importance of a global perspective. This move, despite leading to significant challenges like isolation from my family’s support, aligned with my childhood dreams of adventure, freedom, and independence. I am forever grateful for my parents' forward-thinking and liberal attitude, as they gave me the chance to eventually discover who I am, despite my path being laden with trials and obstacles.
In this new land, I found myself grappling with newfound autonomy, set against the backdrop of my cultural heritage. Amidst solitude and freedom, the seeds of my future in music began to take root, heralding a journey filled with profound challenges, growth, and transformations ahead.
Freedom, Courage, and Reborn Religion
In the UK, my path initially echoed my Chinese upbringing's trajectory. I had always seen myself as a black sheep, but on reflection, I realised I was more like a sheep, following the herd to avoid the burden of personal responsibility.
After completing my A-Levels at a boarding school in North Somerset, I pursued a BSc in Economics and Sociology at the University of Manchester, followed by an MA in Media Management at the University of Stirling. Despite achieving good grades, I was just going through the motions, partially aware of my deeper aspirations, treading a path shaped more by others' expectations than my own choices.
My awakening began in London, with less than a year left on my visa amidst a job-stifling economic crisis. That's when I realised I hadn't felt true passion or happiness since music had been the magic in my world. Lost in a maze of 'shoulds,' I had unwittingly buried my childhood dream.
For two introspective years, I grappled with, "What do I really want?" Gradually, the answer emerged from my suppressed dreams: music. It had been buried so deep I almost forgot it existed. Acknowledging it, I started to see serendipitous events guiding me back to my passion.
In the early years of producing music and creating vocal demos, I was challenging the belief that 'I wasn’t good enough to be an artist.' The conviction that the universe would guide me if music were my calling was strong. Yet, I understood it required my initiative – the courage to try and the dedication to refine my craft.
Amongst the signs that emerged, meeting Tricky, my teenage idol, was most significant. His encouragement and belief in my unique talents were transformative. It felt like receiving a 'permission slip' to unleash my potential. From then on, nothing could hold me back. Music became a rebirth, a newfound religion that unveiled my true purpose. The thoughts of success or failure became irrelevant compared to the exhilarating joy of making music.
During this time, I developed an overinflated artistic ego to mask my insecurities and lack of self-confidence. Simultaneously, I juggled three jobs and a Ph.D. in Dubstep culture at King's College London. However, the realisation that this path was unsustainable for my music career led to a pivotal decision: I dropped out of my Ph.D. program to dedicate myself to music.
Securing my visa was a constant struggle in my first decade in the UK. Each year brought uncertainty, and the economic downturn only added to the challenges. Yet, the thought of returning to China, where I knew my artistic identity would be stifled, fuelled my determination to stay in the UK.
Finally, my perseverance paid off. Becoming a British citizen was more than a legal status; it was the freedom to pursue my art without constraints. This new chapter wasn't just a change of nationality; it symbolised the liberation of my artistic spirit and the beginning of my journey towards self-discovery and musical authenticity.
Music vs Business
In the world of music, where art and business are inextricably intertwined, one faces a perpetual balancing act. Navigating this intricate landscape, where the artistic spirit and commercial interests often diverge, becomes an art form of its own. It's about preserving the essence of creative purity while simultaneously staying alive, staying afloat, and perhaps even thriving, according to one’s personal definition of success, all without compromising the integrity of one’s soul.
In the heart of London's dynamic music scene, my journey was marked by profound internal conflict. My efforts to align with a perceived path to success often clashed with the deeper truths in my heart, creating a debilitating cognitive dissonance. The loud voice of my ego, craving recognition and significance, often drowned out the heart's subtle whispers, leading me into years of despair where no achievement seemed adequate and no progress swift enough. I found myself caught in the relentless pursuit of an illusory success as defined by pop culture, industry standards, and societal expectations.
This period was characterised by intense depression and anxiety. Amidst the industry's fierce competition and fixation on metrics, I grappled with a sense of loss, questioning the essence of my pursuit in music. My lack of confidence and trust in myself led me down many detours, further away from my true path.
The year 2018 marked a turning point for me. Immersed in hundreds of books and attending meditation retreats, I emerged from the depths of depression and anxiety and began to untangle myself from the rat race mentality. This major awakening was transformative: I gained a peaceful inner space from stopping judging myself harshly. I learned to be kind to myself, to become my own ally rather than an adversary. My focus shifted back to the art of music, moving away from the ego's relentless demands to prove its worth and significance.
This change signalled a profound transformation in my life. I embraced a new mindset, stepping away from conventional success metrics and redefining what it meant to be an artist. This wasn't merely about my music; it was a holistic shift in my values, cognition, and worldview.
As I embarked on this renewed journey, I ventured into the world of Web3 in early 2021, which further catalysed my paradigm shift. This new realm opened my eyes to different possibilities and ways of thinking, setting the stage for the next chapter of my story. I was ready to delve deeper into these transformative experiences and their profound impact on my art and life.
Paradigm Shifts in the new Blockchain Era
When I first discovered the world of Web3, and the possibility of music NFTs in the midst of pandemic 2021, what captivated me was the sense of creative freedom and the pioneering spirit of the blockchain technology. It was about decentralisation and the early adoption of a field with huge potential. The community mindset was refreshingly different; it was about win-win scenarios rather than the traditional hierarchical structures prevalent in the music industry. This space felt like a true digital renaissance, a gathering of like-minded, entrepreneurial artists who owned their work and sought a new way forward.
My artistic process underwent a significant transformation in this new era. No longer was I constrained by subconscious limitations like Spotify play-listing prospects or concerns about shaping my art towards wider audience appeal. As the competitive pressure dissipated, my artistic visions and creations flourished. This space championed individuality and the fearless expression of one's true self. My too ‘out there’ East & West blended uniqueness that was once an issue for the industry to pigeon hole me, now cherished in the web3 culture. My creations became uninhibited, free from the conventional metrics of success and the constant numbers game. This liberation was the first step towards fully embracing my avant-pop music creation without second thoughts or internal conflicts.
Transitioning into this space radically shifted my artistic identity and how I viewed my work and my audience. It changed the paradigm from wanting to please the masses to attracting a niche audience that resonates with my art. I found myself reevaluating success, happiness, and my desires. The mental framework of chasing fame and 'making it' lost its allure as I grew to understand these goals no longer resonated with who I had become at my core.
In this new era, my definition of success became more soul-guided, inwardly focused on creative fulfilment, freedom, peace, joy, and abundance in love, friendship, family, and connections. This framework allowed me to maintain and enhance my artistic integrity, making art for art's sake and aligning more closely with the concept of fine art music.
The blockchain technology has been a permission slip, or a stepping stones, allowing me to align my growth with my life and career decisions. True freedom for me lies in the ability to adapt to fast-evolving technology, cultures, and circumstances. It's about not getting stuck in old ways and having the courage to re-examine, discard, and start afresh. This philosophy represents freedom in the mind, soul, societal expectations, cultural apprehensions, and material possessions, encapsulating my journey and growth in the ever-evolving world of new technology and beyond.
My Artistic Evolution: Present & Future
Navigating the dynamic terrain of my artistic odyssey, I find myself at a crucial juncture where healing, artistic integrity, and legacy illuminate my path. My deep engagement with fine art avant-pop music is more than a passion; it's a commitment to crafting art that transcends cultural and temporal limits.
Art, for me, has always been an intimate exploration of self. It serves as a conduit to express and unravel the complex tapestry of my thoughts and emotions. This journey has matured into a harmonious blend of profound philosophy and introspection, weaving together the intricate threads of my Chinese heritage and Western influences.
My current focus involves a multidisciplinary approach, delving into subjects like history, fine art, philosophy, psychology, quantum physics, and metaphysics. This broad spectrum of knowledge enriches my art, contributing significantly to the cultural and artistic evolution of our shared human experience. It's a quest that melds philosophy, spirituality, and cultural movements, seeking a deeper understanding and a meaningful impact on the vast landscape of art.
This new phase in my career signifies a profound shift in values and perspective. Moving away from traditional notions of success, I'm redefining the essence of being an artist. This transformation brings my creations into closer alignment with my true self and my deepest artistic vision, fostering exploration and authenticity in my creative expression.
Looking ahead, I'm committed to a path that harmoniously blends personal authenticity with the ever-evolving story of my art. This journey is more than personal transformation; it's an invitation for shared discovery and growth. It's about crafting art that challenges cultural norms and celebrates the ephemeral beauty of existence.
As I embark on this new chapter, I approach the future with openness and humility, aware that while I play a role in shaping my destiny, it's also shaped by the universe's mysterious ways. I'm ready to embrace the unexpected, allowing my artistic evolution to unfold organically, guided by my endeavours and the unpredictable twists of life's journey.